Free agent right-hander Grant Balfour is expected to make a decision as to where he will sign "within a week, if not in the coming days," a person close to his situation tells Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported over the weekend that the Nationals are in the mix for Balfour, and Kilgore writes that it should be known soon how serious that level of interest is. GM Mike Rizzo appeared on the MLB Network this morning and spoke in general terms regarding Balfour (via Kilgore):
"Sometimes, you get some values at this time of year. We’re looking for any way to strengthen a weakness we have. We feel our bullpen is extremely strong. It’s a big part of our ball club. But if we could strengthen a strength, that never hurts, either. You can never have too many good players. Especially in January, you can never have too many good arms, too many starters, too many relievers."
In his weekend report, Rosenthal noted that the purpose of backloading the two-year deals inked by Jordan Zimmermann and Ian Desmond was to create financial flexibility for the 2014 season. The club saved in the vicinity of $3.5MM by backloading those deals, and that money, paired with a trade of Drew Storen — something both Rosenthal and Kilgore note as a possibility — would seem to free up enough payroll to add Balfour. Storen is set to earn $3.5MM next season.
The 36-year-old Balfour agreed to a two-year, $15MM with the Orioles back in December, but that contract fell through due to medical concerns from Baltimore. While the initial reaction to the deal was anger from Balfour and his agents because multiple doctors said his shoulder was perfectly healthy, recent reports have indicated that Baltimore backed off due to concerns in Balfour's wrist and knee.